This June, the Office of International Medicine Programs (IMP) launched the Summer Medical and Research Enrichment Program, which welcomed 13 international medical students from Saudi Arabia to GW’s campus. The new five-week program provides participants with access to medical and research enrichment opportunities both at GW and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As a result of this dynamic partnership, participants have the opportunity to obtain hands-on research experience in state-of-the-art laboratories, develop strong cross-cultural skills, improve English language skills, and gain first-hand knowledge of the American medical education and health care system.
In response to National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) standards requiring students be equipped with the academic medical background sufficient to succeed in a U.S. residency program, IMP developed an innovative program to prepare international students earlier on in their medical careers. International medical graduates who vie for a place in a residency program are not always competitively prepared. IMP recognized this disconnect and wanted to provide a practical and meaningful solution. Not only are the students immersed in the academic medical community, but they get ample exposure to life in the United States as well as an opportunity to improve their communication skills, which is imperative to any professional industry. As Stanley Knoll, M.D., clinical professor of surgery and medical director of IMP, describes it, “This is a very exciting new program, building upon our extensive experience with medical education in Saudi Arabia. It has been great fun — and very satisfying — having this bright, enthusiastic group of young Saudi students, representing four medical schools, join us for five weeks. They are enjoying a wide array of experiences we have prepared for them in both medical research and clinical medicine.”
As a part of their learning experience, program participants are required to participate in a community service activity. This allows them to learn about ways in which to build their curriculum vitaes and learn about various issues in the D.C. community. Participants were grateful for the opportunity. Sami Althobaiti described his experience volunteering at Sunday Suppers, a local organizing serving the homeless, as giving him “the desire to do good and make others happy. Honestly, this day was one of the happiest days in my entire life,” he said. Althobaiti and other fellow program participants helped Sunday Suppers by serving food and socializing with the underserved community.
IMP hopes to the program continues to grow and prepare international medical students to meet the challenges of residency in the United States. Judging by the participants’ feedback, they are off to a great start, “attending the Summer Medical and Research Enrichment program gave me a glimpse into the [dynamics of medical school and the health care system in the United States]. I am grateful to everyone who worked on this program for making sure that we have a successful experience,” said participant Mohamed Ray-Zack.
For more information about the Summer Medical and Research Enrichment Program or any other programs administered by the Office of International Medicine Programs, you may email firstname.lastname@example.org.